Ryan is all over the Edinburgh International Book Festival

July 29, 2014

I’ll be chairing two events and reading at two more this year at the EIBF. Great to be back in sunny Charlotte Square!


Tue 12 Aug 9:00pm – 11:00pm — The Guardian Spiegeltent

Reel Festivals presents Syria Speaks, a celebration of contemporary Syrian writing and music. With readings from Samar Yazbek’s Pinter Prize-winning war diaries and Malu Halasa’s sly (but not shy) Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie, this event highlights the humour, resilience and strength of Syrian art, even in these most challenging times. Through the poetry of Golan Haji, the adventures of novelist Robin Yassin-Kassab, and the storytelling and songs of the irrepressible Raast Collective, Syria Speaks will make you laugh, cry and maybe even dance.


Wed 13 Aug 1:30pm – 2:30pm — Baillie Gifford Main Theatre

Of Me and Others is as close to Alasdair Gray’s autobiography as we are likely to get. Described by its editor Alistair Braidwood as ‘ribald, humorous, angry and incisive’, this new tome by one of Scotland’s literary superstars describes his meetings with authors such as Anthony Burgess, and explains how he went about writing his masterpiece Lanark and recent Faust adaptation, Fleck.


Sat 16 Aug 9:30pm – 10:30pm — Baillie Gifford Main Theatre

Faber and Faber is world famous for publishing the giants of poetry. Now, with My Prefect Cousin, Faber offers us the poems of cult poet Paul Hamilton. His cousin, the renowned comedy actor Kevin Eldon, has pieced together Hamilton’s story, the man once described by the Poetic Literary Review as ‘a diabolical libertarian’. Join Eldon as he charts the rollercoaster ride of a life dedicated to verse.


Mon 25 Aug 9pm – 11pm — Guardian Spiegeltent

The Edinburgh Cabaret of Words, Music & Lyrical Delights comes to the Book Festival! Details to follow…

Ryan talks to The Skinny about Reel Festivals

July 9, 2014

This August Reel Festivals will return to the Unbound Series at the EIBF with our show Syria Speaks, a combination of song, dance and word from Syrian artists. In an interview with The Skinny we talk about finding the story beyond the headlines.

This Room is Waiting is Published by Freight

May 19, 2014

Delighted to report that This Room is Waiting, a collection of the poems written during the Reel Iraq Festival by UK poets Jen Hadfield, Billy Letford, Krystelle Bamford and John Glenday, by Iraqi poets Zahir Mousa, Sabreen Kadhim, Ghareeb Iskander and Awezan Nouri, and edited by myself and Lauren Pyott, has been published by Freight Books. Working with literal translations of the Arabic and Kurdish poems, the English language poets have created new ‘versions’, startling works that channel the anger, fear, hurt, hope, joy and fragile optimism of the originals, reconnecting readers with the realities of real life in post-invasion Iraq, far beyond the banalities of cyclical western media stories.

‘What if it was our culture, our country that was invaded?’ is the question asked. This Room is Waiting fashions an extraordinary portrait of a country rebuilding after war.

Structo Magazine has also given us our first review: ‘The poets’ culture and experience shines through the poems, but there’s also a sense of connection based on the shared experience of writing and translating together.’

In Which Ryan Photoblogs his Experiences

May 6, 2014

Recently I had the privilege of taking a trip to Iraq with some really talented artists as part of the Reel Arts: Niniti Literature Festival. If you were curious about how one might document such a trip photographically, look no further than the Reel Festivals Blog.

Ryan Discovers the Farrokhzad Connection in Iraq

May 3, 2014

Recently I had the privilege of taking a trip to Iraq with a group of seriously talented artists as part of the Reel Arts: Niniti Literature Festival. The second of my journal entries is posted at the Reel Festivals blog.

Ryan gets A Little Perspective in Fallujah

May 1, 2014

Recently I joined a group of poets on a trip to Iraq for the Reel Arts: Niniti Literature Festival. We saw some amazing things. The first of two journal entries from me is available on the Reel Festivals Blog.

Reel Iraq: Golden Hour at the EIBF

August 2, 2013

On Monday 19 August the Reel Iraq team of Scottish and Iraqi poets and artists are part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s Unbound series. We’re showing off some of the best work from both countries, plus some of our collaborations and translations. It’s going to be a really special night, hope to see you there.

Reel Iraq: The Golden Hour

Monday 19 August, 9-11pm (FREE)

Revel in a special evening of contemporary Iraqi culture, to mark ten years since the invasion of Iraq, with poetry, theatre and music. Featuring acclaimed Iraqi poets Sabreen Kadhim (coming direct from Baghdad) and Ghareeb Iskander, accompanied by new translations from renowned Scotland-based poets Krystelle Bamford, John Glenday, Jen Hadfield and William Letford; compelling theatre from Dina Moussawi and Iraqi Choobi dance music. This event is supported in part by Creative Scotland and LIFT Festival.

What: Reel Iraq: The Golden Hour

Where: The Guardian Spiegeltent, Charlotte Square, Edinburgh

When: Monday 19 August, 9-11pm

How Much: FREE.


Golden Hour Teams Up With Reel Festivals in Stirling

March 11, 2013

Stirling: The Golden Hour

The Golden Hour has packed houses throughout the world — from the Edinburgh International Book Festival all the way to Melbourne with stops in Berlin, Paris, Beirut and Montreal. This time, we have the distinct pleasure of bringing our closing party for Reel Iraq to Stirling’s Raploch Community Campus, featuring renowned Iraqi and Scottish poets, short films, and music from Billy Liar & Hailey Beavis.

We have Iraqi poetry from Ghareeb Iskander, Sabreen Kadhim, Zahir Mousa, Awezan Nouri and new translations from John Glenday, Jen Hadfield, William Letford and Krystelle Bamford. We did some great work with these guys during our stay in Iraq, and we’re really proud to host them in Scotland. It’s a free show, so if you’re in Stirling on Monday 25 March, come join us for some amazing and unique poetry performances.

What: Reel Iraq Closing Party

Where: Raploch Community Campus, Drip Rd, Stirling, FK8 1RD

When: Monday 25 March, 7pm

How Much: FREE!

Reel Festivals hit the Culture Laser

A really special Culture Laser for your ears, as we focus on the intense and unique work from Iraqi artists and Reel Festivals, which will be touring Scotland this month. We feature actor and playwright Dina Mousawi, who performs an excerpt from her show about the lives of Iraqi women, Return, and talks about the work and its genesis. We also feature music from Hasan Bressm, Khyam Allami and Leila Albayaty, who will all be performing in March as part of Reel Festivals all over the UK. This is a great opportunity to hear a totally unique perspective about our recent history in the country, and these guys are mega talented. Hear it all through the little pointy triangle.

Reel Iraq 2013 Is Coming to Scotland

February 25, 2013

Really exciting news! The good people at Reel Festivals have announced their full programme of events for Reel Iraq 2013, which runs from 21-25 March all across the UK, including dates for the calendars of the citizens of London, Dumfries, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling. There’s a huge amount going on, with short film showings, music, poetry and writing workshops, really worth making a note of and coming along to support some of the best artists Iraq has to share with us.

We’re hitting the road in a massive poetic convoy with our Found in Translation team, featuring Ghareeb IskanderSabreen KadhimZahir Mousa, and Awezan Nouri, our friends John Glenday, Jen Hadfield, William Letford, and Krystelle Bamford, plus so many massively talented UK-based poets joining us along the way, including George Szirtes, Tom Pow, Vicki Feaver, Miriam Gamble and Joe Dunthorne, to name a scant few. It’s going to be one week-long celebration of poems and the humans who write them, we’ll be exhausted and euphoric and we invite you to do likewise.

PLUS if you can make it up to Raploch Community Campus on Monday 25th, we’re throwing an intensely unique Golden Hour to bring this year’s Reel Iraq to a close, featuring all the aforementioned Iraqi and Scottish poets, short films, and music from Billy Liar, Hailey Beavis and others. You will pause, ponder, clap and sing along.

Can’t wait to get all this underway, can’t wait to see you there, and to put you in the mood, here’s Reel Festival’s very own theatrical trailer.